MOROCCOThe Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a new €114 million (US$131.89m) loan to Morocco to enable the implementation of the Support Program for the Inclusive and Sustainable Development of Agricultural and Rural Areas (Padidzar).

According to the Moroccan High Commission for Planning (HCP), agriculture, which accounts for 15% of the national wealth produced each year before tourism and industry, is threatened by water stress. The phenomenon caused by drought is a consequence of climate change.

In this context, the Padidzar aims to increase the efficiency of the traditional irrigation infrastructure by improving water catchments at the head of irrigation systems and reducing water losses during transport in the seguias and distribution at the level of irrigated areas.

In all, 25,000 hectares of small and medium-sized irrigation schemes will be rehabilitated in seven regions of Morocco, as well as 50 km of rural roads.

The program will be implemented in the regions of Drâa Tafilalet, Béni Mellal-Khénifra, Fès-Meknès, Marrakech-Safi, Oujda, Souss-Massa and Tanger-Tétouan-El Hoceima.

The objective is to improve the resilience of smallholders in vulnerable areas of the Cherifian Kingdom, improving incomes and providing employment opportunities in irrigated agriculture.

Padidzar will also improve and modernize systems for the mobilization and exploitation of available water resources and their optimal use to support the sustainable development of irrigated areas.

Also, the adoption of improved production systems that are resilient to climate change, the promotion of value chains, and the strengthening of institutional and sectoral capacities through a more incentive-based regulatory framework for water saving and the promotion of governance in this area.

The Moroccan government will allocate part of the AfDB financing to water and soil conservation, as well as to the safeguarding of Khettaras. Khettaras are traditional structures designed to capture groundwater.

The Khettaras are now a national heritage to preserve and whose registration on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is under consideration.

This initiative is part of the National Priority Program for Drinking Water Supply and Irrigation (PPNAEPI, 2020-2027) and the new Agricultural Strategy of the Kingdom Generation Green (GG 2020-2030).

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